Jacob Rees-Mogg has criticized Rishi Sunak for making “decisions which were of the left rather than of the right” while chancellor.

Speaking to Sky News, the Brexit opportunities minister said the tax rises Mr Sunak presided over were “damaging”, adding: “He was a tax increasing chancellor”.

Mr Rees-Mogg, who is backing Liz Truss’ Conservative leadership campaignadded that he would not serve in Mr Sunak’s cabinet if the former chancellor were to become prime minister as he was “disloyal” to Boris Johnson.

“I think the corporation tax rise was bad for business, bad for investment in the UK,” the Brexit opportunities minister said.

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Rishi Sunak currently leads the race to succeed Boris Johnson

“The National Insurance hike hits employers just after we’re getting over the COVID problem and makes life harder for employees when we’re in the midst of a cost of living crisis.

“I think these were bad tax rises.”

Asked if he would serve in Mr Sunak’s hypothetical cabinet if asked, Mr Rees-Mogg told Kay Burley: “No of course I wouldn’t. I couldn’t support someone who has been so disloyal to Boris Johnson.”

“f you’re bound by collective responsibility, you should stick to that whilst you’re in the cabinet,” he continued.

Probed on the accusation that “dirty tricks” are being used by Mr Sunak’s campaign, Mr Rees-Mogg admitted that he has “no idea whether that’s going on or not”.

“So to be absolutely clear, I have no evidence that’s going on. But if it were going on, it would obviously be improper,” he added.

It came after a tweet by Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries on Tuesday claimed former education secretary Gavin Williamson was behind an operation to siphon off some of MPs’ votes for Mr Sunak to Jeremy Hunt to ensure they were the final two candidates in the leadership race.

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Sunak takes early lead in Tory race

Mr Rees-Mogg added that he supports Ms Truss in her bid to become the next Tory leader because “she has got the right answers” in terms of foreign, domestic and European policies.

He added that Ms Truss had also been “very good in leading with the prime minister on Ukraine and making sure we had a strong response to Russia” and is “fiscally, on the right side of the argument”.

Asked about previous comments he had made about the foreign secretary being a “strong Brexiteer” despite voting Remain in the referendum, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “I think you need to look at what people are doing now. It is possible for people to change their minds.”

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The first round of voting in the Conservative leadership race will take place today – and Tory MPs will be able to choose from eight contenders.

Those vying to become the party’s new leader, and the next prime minister, will need to secure at least 30 votes in order to advance to the next stage.

The leadership hopefuls still in the running are:

• Kemi Badenoch
• Suella Braverman
• Jeremy Hunt
• Penny Mordaunt
• Rishi Sunak
• Liz Truss
• Tom Tugendhat
• Nadhim Zahawi

Today’s ballot is expected to take place between 1.30pm and 3.30pm, with the result set to be announced at 5pm.

The candidate with the lowest number of votes will drop out and further ballots will take place in the coming days.

Sky News is hosting a live TV debate with the contenders vying to be the next leader of the Conservative Party and therefore prime minister, and you could be in the virtual audience.

The debate will take place on Monday 18 July hosted by Sky News presenter Kay Burley.

If you would like to be a member of the virtual audience and be in with a chance of asking a question, please email NewsDebates@sky.uk.

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